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The European bank that's still hiring and only works you until 2am

Credit Suisse's senior investment bankers might be onto something. Bloomberg reported last week that Steve Geller, the Swiss bank's recently promoted head of M&A had quit for Santander's corporate and investment bank (CIB), along with seven of his colleagues. 

They are unlikely to be Santander CIB's last hires this year. Sources in the market say the Spanish investment bank is busy recruiting. And sources already at Santander CIB say it's a fine place to be.

"Santander are out there hiring," says one London M&A headhunter. "They're seen as a safe shop for people who need balance sheet and who want an undemanding life. They're talking to a lot of people at all levels."

Santander was hiring from Credit Suisse even before Credit Suisse was kindly engulfed by UBS. Last year November, for example, the Spanish bank added Ishan Kaul from Credit Suisse as head of telecommunications in Europe. And it's not just Credit Suisse people who've been moving - Alex Andreichuk joined Santander from Perella around the same time. He was preceded by Carlos Rivero who joined from Guggenheim in the US, Tobias Heilmaier who joined from JPMorgan in Germany and Mike Bagguley, who joined from Barclays as head of global markets. More recently, Santander added Joana Schlenczek from Deutsche's capital release group in April.

In a market where there's far less hiring going on, the mere fact that Santander is ingesting staff is a source of excitement. It's compounded by the fact that revenues in the bank's CIB were pretty healthy in the past quarter. Santander is saying positive things about, being "one of the leading investment banks in Europe" and intending to "continue to accelerate business in the US." 

M&A insiders at Santander confirm that life is pretty fine there, although they clarify that this does depend slightly on the team you work in. "In Santander's core markets like power, energy, infrastructure and sustainable technology, there's a lot of traction and so hours tend to be longer," says one London banker. "In other more developing markets like consumer and digital solutions it's more about origination and so is more manageable."

What do long hours at Santander look like? In demanding teams, you work until 1am or 2am, says the banker. In less demanding teams, it's more like 9pm or 10pm. That's still a lot of hours, but is arguably fewer than at US firms with a reputation for the heaviest toil. 

It helps that people at Santander are also pleasant to be around. "Santander is human. People tend to be nice to each other here," the banker suggests.

There are, of course, downsides. The pay is good, but not as good as at US banks. In 2022, the average material risk taker at Santander in London earned a "mere" £405k. There's the slight issue of the share price, which fell 14% in April. An MD at a rival bank in London questions whether Santander can succeed in investment banking: "I hear positive things about them, but what are they honestly offering? These are tricky conditions and will clients really rely on a bank that isn't already established in the market?"

Santander's new hires seem to think that clients will. And they're having a good time in the meantime. "The culture here is great and we're in growth mode," says the banker. "That resonates with people in the right way."

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Gl
    Globe spoiler
    16 May 2023

    ...wondering what means "..it is fine, working at Santander bank, people are friendly here..."

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